Irish Mountain
Running Association

Vouchers in Shop

Paul SmythMay 9 2022, 3:18pmAre vouchers going to be available for sale in the shop again?


Laura FlynnMay 9 2022, 5:34pmWe are keeping this under review Paul. Currently there doesn’t appear to be any difficulty with members using their own vouchers or securing one from another member at a race. There are also a number of vouchers previously purchased by people which are yet to be collected. The plan is to bring the system online and this is being looked at in conjunction with the website upgrade.
Stuart ScottMay 9 2022, 6:29pmThanks Laura. I know a lot of work is going on behind the scenes and thanks to all those involved. An online voucher system makes complete sense as the paper vouchers are very hard to account for. It also makes sense to run down the existing stock of vouchers first instead of trying to maintain two systems in parallel.

One big request though please - can the new system maintain the 'entry on the day' ethos that's so integral to IMRA? Scanning your chip pre-race to populate the results system works very well; there are several ways in which this could be integrated with the online voucher credit which would avoid any extra work for the hard-pressed volunteers and might even make registration faster.

In the meantime, would anyone have a voucher they aren't planning on using that they'd like to sell me? Thanks in advance!
Warren SwordsMay 9 2022, 7:28pmI'd echo Stuart's comments. Entering on the day of race was one of the best things about imra races. Particularly for the Wednesday night races where leaving work etc on time is never guaranteed.

Also goes out without saying that imra has done a phenomenal job of getting races back so quickly along with a packed 2022 calendar. No other organisation has come close in that regard.
Laura FlynnMay 9 2022, 8:38pmThanks Stuart and Warren for highlighting this. I’d be hopeful that the online system would allow us continue the entry-on-the day option which certainly makes life easier for a lot of us.
I’ll bring it to the attention of our sub-committee if they haven’t already read your comments.
Richard NunanMay 9 2022, 9:05pmAs Laura said - yes work in progress. We would like to ,maintain a level of flexibility in this regard.
Alan AylingMay 10 2022, 1:51pmBear in mind for limited numbers races (permits!) there's a possibility of being disappointed if you rock up on the day with a voucher and the number has already been reached!
Stuart ScottMay 10 2022, 3:29pmThanks Laura and Richard. It's great to hear that you're planning to retain entry-on-the-day. And thanks again for all your efforts, along with the rest of the committee. I can only imagine how many hours of work you put in, the majority of which goes unnoticed by the rest of us.

Re. the cap on numbers, we've always had this issue for a few races (e.g. Glasnamullen) and the hybrid pre-entry\EOD system has worked fine. If I miss out on a spot (as has happened!), I know it's my own fault for arriving late and I just drive onto a different location, have a quick run and come back to the pub for the festivities. Relying on pre-entry only means people will enter on spec, especially when it's only e7, not bother turning up and then the website overheats with indignation from those who missed out!
Paul SmythMay 12 2022, 11:31amNo problem with this but I want to make one observation.

The number of vouchers in circulation is limited, and if runners are using them for their own entries, and selling them to others to use, then the supply will get run down quite quickly, or people will stop selling them to others.

What worries me is that some of the posts on the forums seem to be creating the expectation that if you haven't entered online, then you should come along anyway, and someone will sell you a voucher stamp.

In the short term that may be true, but it can't continue for very long. Based on what I saw last night, around 10% of people yesterday were buying voucher stamps from others.
Peter O'FarrellMay 12 2022, 3:45pmPaul,

I was thinking the same myself although possibly less altruistically I was wondering how much I could charge for my increasingly limited resource in a few weeks time ;)
Brendan LawlorMay 12 2022, 3:53pmVoucher punches are trading at €8 in the Voucher Futures Market.. analysts predict they could hit €10 as supplies dwindle
Graham K. BusheMay 12 2022, 3:58pm"Anyone buyin' or sellin' a Voucher?"

"Get your LAST of the Vouchers!"
Warren SwordsJul 26 2022, 9:39pmJust wondering if there is any update to voucher situation?

From a purely selfish point of view, I'm down to my last one.

From a community point of view, I think the lack of vouchers is starting to impact race numbers. Personally, I've missed races as I wanted to save my precious punch holes.

If you look at last 2 Wednesday races, numbers are way down, Ayling Abyss had 60 less runners this year compared to last, Crone Caper was 40 less. May ve other factors at play but who wants to travel to a race on off chance they'll get a voucher?

Appreciate there is work behind the scenes but from a runner point of view, the lack of vouchers is zero craic.
Andrew HanneyJul 26 2022, 10:49pmAgreed, can we have an update on when they will return? Already booked into 3 races this year that I couldn't attend in the end. Vouchers would have saved me a few quid.
Connie DottinoJul 26 2022, 11:05pmI hope we can keep the vouchers and flexibility. I missed a good few races I registered online for and couldn’t make because of either traffic or work. I am rather reluctant to commit to any race too far in advance because I can’t afford to be throwing money away, which means by the time I wanted to register they were booked out. I’d sooner take the chance of turning up with the risk of disappointment as once I drive over, I would at least push myself to go for jog and, as said above, join for the social. The fact that IMRA members have always been so easy going and flexible while runners seemed to accept a great deal of personal responsibility for the risks taken without giving those who very kindly volunteer any abuse, has been one of the greatest attractions. I hope IMRA doesn’t become over sanitised and over regulated like so many other sports killing the very essence of what made it so unique and different from every other club I know!!
Stuart ScottJul 27 2022, 11:08amVery well said Warren and Connie. While I suspect there are other factors affecting numbers, the entry-on-the-day ethos is so integral to IMRA and it would be a shame to see it go.

From a practical point of view, runners could buy an e-voucher via the website and the 'credit' could be taken off when they scan their chip at registration or even more simply, when their result gets uploaded to the website. Pretty much the same as a Leap card, just without the physical card. To avoid the need for internet at registration, runners could be allowed go 'overdrawn' for one race which would be taken off the next time they 'top up'. This would speed up race registration as well as it would obviate the need for anyone to check entry lists - a single swipe of the laptop would do everything!

Having said that, I fully appreciate the work that is going on behind the scenes, especially with the website, results and keeping the races going. I've really enjoyed getting back racing this year (and my waistline is thanking me too!). Apologies in advance if an entry-on-the-day system is already been worked on. And if I can help in any way I'd be glad to.
Laura FlynnJul 27 2022, 11:30amThanks to you all for highlighting this again on behalf of the membership. Yes, Stuart we’re currently looking at something along the lines of what you suggest. We have a website/IT subgroup working on it and other issues. The other issues took precedence for a while so we hope to concentrate on the voucher system soon.
Anecdotally, I believe the number drop-off is being seen in a number of sports similar to ours such as triathlon, adventure races and business houses so it may be a post-covid slump. I don’t think it’s related to lack of vouchers which are still available if people go looking,
Paul SmythJul 27 2022, 10:58pmThe new system being considered sounds like it will be great - when it is finished and implemented.

In the meantime, the existing setup, where people cannot buy vouchers, is awkward for a lot of people. There are after all, good reasons why the system was introduced in the first place, and why it was successful.

What I don't understand is, why we cannot continue to run the voucher system as was, until the new system goes live, at which point people can convert their existing vouchers into credit/entries in the new system? Surely that gives us the best of both worlds?
Warren SwordsJul 28 2022, 9:56amThanks Laura.

I think it's a mistake not selling vouchers while we wait for the new system. It doesn't benefit members in any way and makes it harder to take part in an IMRA race.

Surely the committee can see this?

Look at this weekends Lug race. Entries are closed with just 27 entered and no way of entering four days out unless you go looking for vouchers.
Brendan LawlorJul 28 2022, 9:59amI can understand some members frustration with the delay on this issue but please bare with the committee and IT/ Web team as they sort this out.

As of yesterday the IMRA committee had put on 72 races for our pleasure and entertainment so far in 2022, so I think we all need to cut them a little slack on the new voucher system. There were no vouchers for the two years of Covid and the sky did not fall in
Warren SwordsJul 28 2022, 10:23amWe all agree that imra have done a phenomenal job over last 2 years

This isn't a criticism just a simple request to make vouchers available so people can race given delay in new system. Everyone wins, takes pressure of the fantastic team working on it.
Pól Ó MurchúJul 28 2022, 11:22am@ Warren & Paul and others - just to cover off a few points... the current voucher system as it stands has many flaws from an admin & accounting side of things. These we also hope to fix with whatever system we put in place. It may not be immediately obvious to anyone who doesn't have to try and reconcile collected vouchers after each race, that's if you even manage to get a listing from RD's of collected vouchers and used vouchers at each race but the workload to track and audit these is extremely time consuming and generally the information is inaccurate and incomplete.

When it was rolled out initially there was no easy way of tracking collected vouchers built into the system so there was just a list of sold vouchers and really no way of knowing which were collected or not. This was later corrected but is extremely time consuming on Treasurer, web master and other members of the committee (Lillian) who try to keep track of who has and hasn't collected vouchers.

On the accounting side also we have no track record or any idea idea indeed how many vouchers are out there unused and from an accounting point of view the current rules around these with having no expiry date essentially makes these a liability on the accounts but one that we can't even put an accurate figure on. This has additional ramifications when trying to budget for race income etc. In fact I think we are all still amazed at how many vouchers are still being used each week with not having sold any in some time. This just goes to show the number out there.

Lets not forget that the primary reason vouchers were introduced initially was to take cash out of the system, and try and minimise on the day cash entries and RD's having to handle and be responsible for large sums of cash at each race particularly the early ones in the year. This is a task which online reg fulfils perfectly well now and in some ways one could argue that with online reg and looking at this as the primary reason they were introduced there is indeed no reason for vouchers anymore. At the time of their introduction only annual membership and vouchers were available to buy and additionally vouchers were only valid in the year they were purchased. Not quite sure when this changed and indeed there are obvious reasons for the change in that who'd buy a voucher towards the end of the year with only 4 or 5 races left and it expiring in a few weeks. The pricing structure was as much about getting buy in at the time and enticing the use of the voucher over cash as it was a way of rewarding members who did 10 or more races in the year and it meant that even if you only managed to use 7 you were still more or less at break even point. with the added benefit of not having to look for €7 cash each week for race entry.

So there you have it a brief history lesson in the voucher system. It is a work in progress and something that has had much discussion at committee level. We would ask that you bear with us. The reasons for not just opening it up again is as much about getting a handle on the unwieldy current system as a desire to simplify race registration, timing and time taken behind the scenes to manage the current system.

The reality is that if you really want to do a race you can buy an entry online as the vast majority of members do each week. The calendar doesn't generally change that much so we all know what is coming up and whilst I understand peoples plans can change last minute. I suspect if we are completely honest this is very much a minority of people and those who really want to make a race will in most case be able to. There are indeed still a surprising number of vouchers around each week. I have yet to come across anyone who didn't manage to get one at a race - but admittedly that is a risk some are not willing to take and that's understandable if travelling long distances to race.
Warren SwordsJul 28 2022, 11:39amThanks for that Pól. That's a very comprehensive reply and explains what a total pain the voucher system is to run. Much appreciated.

I shall halt my "bring back the vouchers" campaign immediately
Peter O'FarrellJul 28 2022, 11:55amThe vouchers, as they currently exist, are extremely attractive. €5 a race entry, as opposed to €7. Last minute freedom to decide whether or not to go to the race and no expiry date.
Of course people want them back :)

G'wan the anecdote alert........
I suspect some of the reason people are finding them at home is that in their first iteration they were printed on exactly the same card and with exactly the same design as the yearly membership card, used at the time in the likes of the Great Outdoors and given out when you signed up the year at your first race.

I recall helping out at a race fado fado and realising I had been given an innocent looking small cardboard box which essentially contained thousand's of euros worth of race entries along with another identical white cardboard box containing membership cards.
I nearly started giving out voucher cards to everyone entering as their yearly membership card! And this was before there was any tracking whatsoever. Mad stuff Ted.

So that's a long winded way of saying thanks for the comprehensive reply Pól and thanks again to all the behind the scenes workers for all the behind the scenes work.
Stuart ScottJul 28 2022, 12:02pmBrendan, a 'bare' Committee is that last thing anyone wants! I am more than happy to bear with them though!

Warren, stop meddling with my cunning plan to have a top-27 finish on Sunday!

Thanks Laura and Pol for your responses. I had expected it was being actively worked on, and it's great to get the confirmation. I had some experience of the voucher reconciliation issue and it was always a nightmare from a financial perspective. Bringing back the vouchers would be a regressive step, provided of course that the new system can be completed in a timely manner.

Just to pick up on one point of Pol's - the vouchers were introduced to remove cash (which we all agree was a huge risk) but at no point was there ever an intention to remove entry on the day. Entry on the day is still an important part of IMRA. While many enter online out of necessity, I don't think it automatically means that all of them would like to see entry on the day removed. Indeed, I know of one person whose online entry is purely tactical to save the priceless voucher for less certain days! From my own perspective, I often don't know if I can make a race until the morning of the race itself (and sometimes not even until I finish work). I suspect I'm not alone in this.

Anyway, I think the main point of this thread was to make sure that it's still a work in progress, which it is, so thanks again to you and everyone else involved for all the behind the scenes work!

Brendan LawlorJul 28 2022, 1:20pmWell done Pol, great explanation and history lesson and the correct spelling of ' bear with us' to boot !

I can't bear it when I misspell those two words, bear and bare.. I'm like a bare with a sore head...
Torben DahlJul 28 2022, 1:46pmThanks Pol for your comprehensive response on this subject. As a former committee member I can only echo the challenges the paper vouchers are giving.

Just an idea, that might or might not be a feasible interim solution but maybe something someone with more technical insight than myself could look into: My understanding is that today, say for a Wednesday race, online registration closes on Tuesday at 18:00 in order to extract the membership list for the laptop. Anyone having registered a membership by Tuesday at 18:00 but have not online registered for the actual race could stil enter on the day with a voucher. Where I am going with this is, that if an interim functionality could be coded into the web system, whereby IF MEMBERSHIP IS purchased/active before 18:00 on Tuesday THEN MEMBER can register for the race online until say Wednesday at 18:00, as the member is already on the laptop the way anyone registering with a voucher is. Even if no phone signal at registration to check the online race registration, the member will have an e-mail to show that they registered online on e.g. the Wednesday afternoon.
Pól Ó MurchúJul 28 2022, 1:59pm@ Brendan A patient bear will always bear with you, but an impatient bear just might devour you!!
Andrew HanneyJul 28 2022, 2:45pmEach member could have a QRCode. In the shop they could buy vouchers, they get added to their account. They scan their QRCode at the race, it comes off their voucher balance. I moved away from development quite a few years ago, but I'm guessing it could be done without too much fuss.
Alan AylingJul 28 2022, 2:55pmSo now we have an explanation for both
1) the unexpected number of vouchers still in circulation
2) all those shady looking characters calling to Peter's house
Brian KitsonJul 28 2022, 3:13pmTorben’s idea seems brilliantly simple. The automated “acknowledgement of payment” email could be updated to include the Runner’s race number and date/time of entry which the registration team could use when verifying the late entry.
Shane O'ReillyJul 28 2022, 5:40pmAre vouchers valid from 2019 and 2020, or just last year? Failed to find an answer on other forum posts - apologies if I missed it!
Kevin BroughtonJul 28 2022, 7:15pmShane I’ve been using my 2019 voucher no problem.
Got it at the end of the season with the knowledge that I could carry it over to 2020, then Covid ruled out vouchers for 20/21 so glad to be able to use it up now this year and thankfully didn’t lose the voucher in the meantime!
Conor O'FarrellJul 28 2022, 9:34pm@Shane

Yes, 2019 vouchers can be used.

Shane O'ReillyJul 29 2022, 8:36amThanks Kevin and Con.
Mick HanneyJan 30 2023, 1:17pmAfter a not very active running year last year I still have a handful of vouchers available. I notice the default for coming races tends to be Online Entry only. Can we ignore this default and arrive with voucher in hand? If not, when can we use remaining vouchers.
Lillian DeeganJan 31 2023, 12:21pmHi Mick,
It’s always best not to ignore event page details I’d be saying.

We will have odd events during 2023 where entry numbers will be limited against specific permits.

As of today, I do not have any of the NPWS permit requests granted. And as with years previous, Parks do place particular limits on some race routes. With no specifics returned my way just yet, we are not in a position to say that this weekends Brockagh race will allow for voucher punch entries.

I would be hoping to have confirmation of some (if not all) of our 2023 NPWS permit requests granted by this coming Friday.

Con is working on setting up the online shop openings for all 5 Spring League races at the mo. Details for the voucher punch entry options will be updated as and when we can on each event page. In the meantime, if you are hoping to race, I’d buy an online ticket to be sure of an entry for this Sunday’s Brockagh race.

Sorry I cannot give a more concrete response for now other than the above detailed info.

Mick HanneyJan 31 2023, 5:39pmThanks Lillian, thats fair enough. Appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes to make the events happen.